Although treadmills are very popular, treadmill training is less effective than many other forms of exercise and can cause injuries when overused. Fortunately, there are many treadmill alternatives for anyone who has discomfort when using a treadmill or wants to do a more effective workout.
The treadmill is one of the most commonly used exercise machines in the world because everyone can do it, and it is relatively simple.
Although using a treadmill can be effective for burning calories, and providing a piece of machinery which builds some amount of physical conditioning in a convenient setting, it is very limited in terms of how much you can use it to improve your body and using treadmill alternatives is a much better option.
Why Do You Need Alternatives to Treadmill Workouts?
The problem with the treadmill is that it can often lead to severe strain on your ankles, knees, hips, and lower back because running on a treadmill puts an intense amount of pounding on your joints. This pounding sends shock-waves through your body, causing many injuries.
Our joints are capable of absorbing large amounts of pressure and exertion since the human body is built to take a certain level of punishment, however, the cartilage and ligaments in our joints are without-a-doubt prone to injury, especially when you stress them with regularly running on a treadmill. Running on a treadmill many times a week puts your body at risk for a wide array of pain from conditions such osteoarthritis, bursitis, and tendinitis.
If you are looking to build an aesthetic physique or improve your overall health, you don’t want to be doing this!
If you are an athlete and training for competition, training on the treadmill is a bad idea because it can create many muscular imbalances. Running on the treadmill uses the quadriceps and anterior chain muscles much more than the hamstrings, glutes, and posterior chain muscles.
If you are planning to go from treadmill training to an athletic competition, you are exposing yourself to a high risk of injury.
Furthermore, running on a treadmill is that it’s very different from actually running outside, and it creates an unnatural movement for the body. Even when running outside, many people do not run with proper form. Adding in the constriction of the treadmill’s treads, people tend to alter their running movement substantially.
When put in this position, every additional step will cause pain in your hips, knees, ankles and lower back.
A treadmill can be a useful device used as a small part or feature of your daily exercise routine, but too much use of it will take a toll on your body!
There are many personal trainers who can help you use a treadmill properly, but if you use it on your own too much, it is likely going to cause you to hit a plateau in your physical conditioning and potentially cause injuries.
Keep reading below to see the best alternative exercises to the treadmill!
What Are the Best Treadmill Alternatives?
If you are looking for treadmill alternatives, there are an incredible number of options for you!
Before you determine which alternative to treadmill training you want to use, you should first consider your training goals.
- Are you looking to lose weight?
- Do you want to build muscle?
- Is anaerobic or aerobic conditioning more important for you?
Once you understand your goals, you can easily determine the best treadmill alternative for yourself!
When it comes to treadmill alternatives, these are the best options:
- Stationary Bicycle
- ERG Rowing Machine
- Prowler Sled Push
- Elliptical Machine
- Stair Stepper
- Total Gym
Not only are these exercises easier on your joints, but they are much more functional exercises as well! These exercises will not only help you to lose weight and burn calories, but they will help you to be stronger and healthier through your daily life as well.
Regardless which you chose, these are all excellent alternatives to treadmill training.
Elliptical vs Treadmill
Elliptical machines combine a treadmill-type walking exercise with an “elliptical” motion of the legs.
Elliptical machines can provide the user with a powerful cardiovascular workout, while working most of the major muscle groups of both the upper and lower body. This machine often includes handles that workout the arms and chest.
They can be used on an incline, at different speeds, and with varying levels of resistance.
You can also use an elliptical machine in reverse to exercise the back of the thighs and hamstrings. Unlike a treadmill where your feet impact with the machine, your foot remains in contact with the elliptical machine to provide a low-impact workout.
Elliptical exercise machines are one of the most undervalued pieces of gym equipment.
Probably the single most important benefit of the elliptical is that anyone can do it. Yes, it is true that the elliptical is not a functional exercise such as the Jacob’s Ladder Exercise, running, or even walking; but it still is exercise.
The elliptical puts minimal stress on all the joints in your body, and it is an excellent piece of equipment to be used by those with injuries, or who are just beginning their fitness career. The motion of the elliptical itself is incredibly easy to be learned, and can be learned by pretty much anyone.
Research has even proven that the elliptical is safe for those who suffer from chronic stroke and are not able to walk! As stated in the Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy,
“Elliptical training appears to be a safe and feasible training alternative for ambulatory individuals with chronic stroke. Training 2 to 3 days per week resulted in no improvements in walking speed; however, participants did demonstrate variable improvements in endurance, balance, and functional mobility. It is possible that a higher training frequency and/or training speed are required to influence walking performance in individuals who are ambulatory.”
Although the elliptical is not necessarily a device for training the human motion of walking, it can certainly be used by almost anyone, as a tool for increasing health and conditioning.
As stated by a study published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development,
“Elliptical exercise for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) results in significant improvements in both fatigue and quality of life (QOL). These findings indicate that regular elliptical exercise could be a part of inpatient and outpatient MS rehabilitation programs.”
Another benefit of choosing an elliptical machine is that they are very easy to find them; and they can be fit pretty much anywhere.
An elliptical takes up even less space than a treadmill, and you can find them more often than other home fitness machines on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.
For those who are recovering from lower body injuries and attempting to stay in shape, the elliptical is a perfect piece of equipment to work your heart rate while not stressing your injury.
For an athlete, the most important key to staying in physical condition is being able to work you heart rate at a certain capacity.
Since there is little to no stress on your joints while using the elliptical, it is possible for you to work your heart rate extensively while maintaining safety and the rehabilitation process of lower-body injuries.
Along with this, it has also been shown through research that using the elliptical is one way to decrease the risk of knee injuries, and can be beneficial for those recovering from knee injuries! As published in the journal Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society,
“The results showed that the pivoting elliptical training is effective to improve off-axis neuromuscular control in healthy individuals and such training protocol can potentially be implemented to prevent knee injury.”
For any athlete who has suffered a lower body injury, it is well known that it is difficult to maintain physical conditioning while rehabbing, and the elliptical can absolutely help this process!
There are many benefits of buying an elliptical machine to use at home! If you’d like to buy a new one, this is a great option for you:
If you want to read about one of the best professional elliptical machines, read this great post about FreeStride Trainer FS7i.
Rowing Machine vs Treadmill
Rowing is one of the least used, yet, most effective cardiovascular activities that you can do.
Rowing machines engage your legs, arms and abdominal muscles. An ERG rowing machine gives you a steady workout for all the major muscle groups, including your heart and lungs.
Depending on your weight and the speed and tension of your rowing, you can burn between 400 and 600 calories per hour.
In addition to losing weight and burning fat, a rowing machine helps to improve muscle definition in your arms and legs.
Rowing machines are great for people who want to get in seriously good shape. If you are trying to build a truly aesthetic body, a rowing machine is a great option. ERG rowing workouts are even included in many CrossFit workouts and competitions.
You have probably seen the ERG rowing machine in your local gym, but maybe you haven’t been brave enough to venture on to it yet. Whether you have a rowing machine at your local gym, or you are considering making it a part of your easy workout for home, these tips will make sure you give it a try!
For most people, the treadmill or a light jog or run outside is what they consider to be “good” cardio. However, these aerobic forms of cardio do not burn nearly as many calories as anaerobic activities.
Anaerobic cardio burns calories while you are doing the activity itself, as well as in the hours afterwards. Along with this, anaerobic cardio can also build muscle in some situations!
Rowing is one of these situations!
Rowing is an excellent cardio choice because it is incredibly different than any other movement you do, and will work muscles you hardly even knew you had.
Rowing is an exhausting workout for your legs, core, and upper back; while also taxing many other antagonist muscles as well.
Working on these muscles in such a unique fashion will allow you to build muscle, as the stimulus will immediately trigger a positive hormonal and muscular response.
Remember, keep your rows to short and intense sprints to make the most of this effect!
If you are looking to put a piece of cardio equipment in to a home gym, you probably started to look at treadmills and stationary bicycles first.
Although there are many benefits of using a stationary bike and other home exercise equipment, a rowing machine offers opportunities that others don’t!
A rowing machine can fit just as easily in to your home gym as these two pieces of equipment, and can help you achieve an even greater level of fitness! Check out these rowing machine reviews on IntenseDebate to find out which suits your price range and home gym the best!
Rowing machines are far more useful than you probably ever imagined.
If you are an athlete looking to do some cross-training in your off season, rowing is a low-impact exercise which can help to keep you in top physical condition year-round.
If you are looking to learn how to lose weight fast, build muscle, or improve your cardiovascular fitness; rowing is also a great choice for you.
If you would like to purchase an ERG rowing machine as an alternative to treadmill to treadmill training, this is an excellent option:
Related Reading: Best ERG Rowing Machine Workouts
Stationary Bike vs Treadmill
Using a stationary bike is one of the best alternatives to treadmill workouts and it is an effective way to exercise your body and get a challenging cardiovascular workout.
A stationary exercise bike is compact and easy to use. The resistance of the pedals can be adjusted for a leisurely ride or a really tough workout that will have you sweating and increase your heart rate. A stationary bicycle is low-impact and easy on your joints.
Many people enjoy using a stationary bike while watching their favorite television program. You can add a book holder and read your favorite magazine or book while riding.
In my opinion, the main reason to purchase a stationary bike compared with other home exercise machines is that it you can do HIIT workouts that burn a lot of calories, and even build muscle mass. Other exercise machines are great, but in my opinion, doing Tabata Intervals on a stationary bicycle is one of the best overall ways of getting in better shape.
If you would like to purchase a stationary bike, there are a lot of options. You can choose between a fan bike or spin bike, or you can choose a more traditional stationary bicycles. Spin bikes are great for more intense training, and there are a wide variety of options. They also tend to take up a small amount of space, but they have a lot of built-in technology to enhance your workouts.
If you’d like to purchase a spin bike, I believe these are the best options:
NexHt Spin Bike
This spin bike is one of the best for home use. It can carry 280 lbs of maximum weight per user. This has an LCD monitor and the designed to help you achieve the figure that you have always dreamed of.
If you use this regularly, you will enjoy the benefit of better blood circulation, it will speed up your metabolism, and will also tone your muscles as you burn calories.
XtremepowerUS PRO SPIN 40
This very attractive spin bike has a sleek, black finish with lime-green accents. This looks sporty and modern and can carry up to 320 lbs of maximum user weight.
It also has LCD monitor and a flywheel that weighs 40 lbs. This is the reason for the spin bike stability and allows the rider to achieve plenty of momentum while working out.
Stair Stepper vs Treadmill
Stair stepper machines are one of the best alternatives to treadmills because they help you get the benefit of climbing stairs without the stress on your joints that actually climbing stairs can cause.
You can change the resistance of the down step and the elevation of the upward step.
Some stair steppers have an option to vary the speed as well. You can program some computerized models for interval training by speed, resistance, and height.
These machines are a bit expensive, but they can provide an incredible workout in your own. If you’d like to purchase one, here is a great option:
If you’d like a home exercise machine as a treadmill alternative which can help you build muscle mass, a total gym is a great option for you.
There are a lot of options for buying a Total Gym, and they price depends on how many options the Total Gym comes with. If you would like to purchase an advanced Total Gym to get the most possibilities, the Total Gym XLS is the best Total Gym option in my opinion!
The Total Gym XLS can be used for over 80 exercises! When comparing free weights vs machines for building muscle, I personally believe free weights are the better option, but buying a Total Gym is a more cost-efficient option for people who want home fitness equipment.
Concluding Thoughts – The Best Treadmill Alternatives
Along with the treadmill alternatives listed above, a couple other great alternative workouts to treadmill training are the Jacob’s Ladder Exercise and the prowler sled push. However, these are even more intense workouts, and they aren’t suited for everyone.
As you can see, there are a variety of treadmill alternatives.
If you want to walk on a treadmill to warm up, I don’t see a problem with that. You can burn up to 100 calories per mile when you walk at a moderately quick pace for one mile as a warm-up on a treadmill. However, you should not try to a treadmill for a substantial part of your workout.
If you need some helpful pieces of advice when it comes to saving money to purchase a treadmill alternative for your home gym, you can get financial help and tips from financial websites such as Crediful.